23 Jan

  • By Heather Yearby
  • In Blog
  • Comments Off

Help your child find their voice

It’s that time of year.  Your child is off to school and you’re hoping this year will be their best yet. You may have received report cards at the end of last year with comments about your child’s difficulty with reading, making friends or classroom behaviour. Or perhaps you’re a couple of days into the 2017 school year and things aren’t going to plan or progressing how you thought they would. What’s going on?

You may not have considered whether your child has Language Disorder.  With 1 in 14 children (2 in every classroom) having Language Disorder, there are many Aussie kids struggling. So why don’t we already know about it? Language Disorder is often described as a ‘hidden’ disability, as these children look just like their peers. You often hear people say “they’ll grow out of it” or “not to worry”.

Parent experiences

Chloe is a dedicated mum whose son, Ethan, has severe Language Disorder. This has immensely impacted his life by turning his childhood into an endless battle to communicate.  His challenges with language means he struggles to make friends, truly speak his mind, or tell anyone his side of the story.  He’s been bullied, excluded and misunderstood his entire life.

“Imagine having to fight 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year for the rest of your life, just to be heard.” – Chloe, mum to Ethan

However with a combination of educational and therapeutic support, much can be done to give children like Ethan back their voice.

Know the signs

A child with Language Disorder will have trouble understanding and/or using language to express themselves.  The disorder can range in severity and how it impacts upon a person’s life.  Along with challenges related to language, a child with Language Disorder may also present difficulties with:

  • Reading and writing
  • Fine and gross motor skills
  • Focus/attention
  • Regulating sensory information
  • Emotional regulation
  • Task avoidance
  • Challenging behaviour
  • Organisation and problem-solving
  • Making friends and playing with others

Seek support

A child with Language Disorder will have:

  • Below average language skills as assessed by a Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Normal hearing as assessed by an Audiologist
  • Average non-verbal cognitive abilities as assessed by a Psychologist

Language Disorder can often be undiagnosed or labelled with other conditions. For example, due to difficulties keeping up in social situations or struggling to understand what their friend has said, a child with Language Disorder may appear to have characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Alternatively, a child with an intellectual disability or global developmental delay may present with language difficulties, however this is not their primary impairment. Speech-Language Pathologists and Psychologists can work together to inform diagnosis and identify the child’s barriers to achieving their full potential.

All children with Language Disorder can benefit from intervention by a Speech-Language Pathologist, but may also require support from some or all of the following professionals:

  • Learning support staff
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Music Therapists
  • Psychologists

With the right support, children with Language Disorder can reach their full potential.

“I feel like I’ve found the Holy Grail. It makes such a difference. When Ethan sits down with the Speech Therapist he’s in a safe, loving environment.  He’s understood, and that’s such a huge thing for kid’s who don’t have language. And he takes away so much from those sessions. It’s improvement after improvement after improvement.” Chloe

The Glenleighden School is Australia’s leading specialist speech and language school helping children speak and find their voice. At our school students receive Speech Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy everyday.

For more information about our school and Language Disorder please contact Cathy Wilson at cathy.wilson@childassoc.org.au or call (07) 3378 8625.

You can also complete our Contact Us Form here.